After the East Coast earthquake, the nuclear power plant North Anna in the state of Virginia must remain shut down for the moment. The damage is greater than anticipated.

A nuclear power plant on the East Coast of the United States possibly experienced greater damage from the recent earthquake than was originally thought. For the time being, the nuclear power plant North Anna in the state of Virginia remains shut down at the direction of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, or NRC.

Inspectors are examining the power plant that lies roughly 15 kilometers from the town of Mineral, where the epicenter of the earthquake from well over a week ago is situated. It is purely a precautionary measure, assured the operating company Dominion.

Both reactors at North Anna, built in the years 1978 and 1980, shut down automatically at the time of the quake. They are designed to withstand earthquakes with a magnitude of 5.9 to 6.2 on the Richter scale. The most recent quake had a magnitude of 5.8. “We’re perplexed,” commented Dominion spokesman Jim Norvelle on the announcement of the NRC.

The agency apparently fears that the vibration of the earth, irrespective of the Richter scale measurement, may have caused greater ground level motion than is permitted. The NRC has established certain limits for the 104 U.S. nuclear power plants. At the present time, the corresponding data from the power plant’s site is still being evaluated.

“No significant damage to safety systems has been identified,” explained NRC spokesman Roger Hannah. If it is determined, however, that the plant exceeded the ground motion for which it was designed, the operating company would need to plan a solution to the problem.

Constantly New Incidents

After the disaster at Fukushima, Japan, President Obama directed the NRC to review the earthquake safety of all power plants. The NRC reports that it has taken appropriate measures.

But by no means does everything go smoothly in the power plants. Again and again there are new incidents. The most recent known occurrence happened in the state of Vermont, where radioactive material from an almost 40-year-old power plant found its way into the groundwater. Years before, an entire cooling tower had collapsed there.

Alarming for many U.S. citizens is the advanced age of the nuclear reactors. Almost all are more than 40 years old. Nuclear power plants produce roughly one-fifth of the electricity in the U.S. Obama is seen as an avowed advocate of nuclear energy. He considers it a clean energy.